The turbo diesel is so commonplace today that naturally aspirated diesels stand out. Go back nearly 60 years and the opposite was true.
In 1961, turbocharging wasn’t yet common in the world of diesels but it was nonexistent in the realm of production farm tractors. There were many reasons for that, starting with cost. Being fairly new technology, it was expensive to implement and farmers weren’t always willing or able to absorb that extra cost.
The beginning of the ’60s was when a downsized, moderate-cost turbo diesel began to be practical. It was only a matter of time before some tractor company fielded a turbocharged diesel and Allis-Chalmers (AC) was that company. Funny thing is… they introduced a turbocharger onto an old-school Buda-Lanova diesel that really wasn’t all that well suited to it.
The turbocharged D-19 was introduced into Allis-Chalmers’s very successful D-Series tractor line for 1961. Launched in 1957, the D-Series started with the D-14, a 34-horsepower, four-cylinder gasser. It would be supplemented with the D-17, which had the option of a 262ci six-cylinder diesel. The D-10 and D-12 would soon join the group and the D-15 would replace the D-14. The D-19 would come next and then the D-21.
The D-17 was a popular “just right” tractor when it was introduced in the fall of 1957 as AC’s “big” tractor. The diesel was rated at 51 Nebraska-tested PTO horsepower. With the latest version of AC’s Power Director (a power-shift device), Traction Booster draft control, power steering, a power-adjustable front axle, rear wheel track adjustment and a solid powertrain, it was a very capable and well-equipped tractor. By the turn of the 1950s, though, a self-respecting tractor company needed more than 51 horsepower in its star tractor for bragging rights.
A new model was designed as a stopgap to fill in as AC developed an all-new big tractor. The D-19 was it, and you could call it a D-17 diesel after a bodybuilding course. The big difference between the two brothers was the addition of a Thompson turbocharger. Boost was modest, only 4-5 psi, but it took the D262 diesel from 51 PTO horsepower to 67 (about 90 hp on the flywheel). On the drawbar, the D-17 delivered 36 horsepower in the Nebraska test while the D-19 cranked out 62.
The D262 was an updated B-Series legacy engine from Buda (pronounced “Beuda” not “Booda”). In late 1953 Allis-Chalmers acquired the Buda Engine Company, making it the Buda Engine Division of Allis-Chalmers. Buda had been making automotive, industrial and marine internal combustion engines since 1910 and formed the basis of what was to become Allis-Chalmers’s short but illustrious era as an engine builder. One result of that era was the Consolidated Diesel agreement with Cummins that yielded the legendary 5.9L diesels in the ’80s.
Buda began working on the B-Series engines toward the end of World War II and the first ag engines debuted in 1946 Cockshutt tractors. They would be built in one, two, four and six-cylinder configurations, all sharing a 3.44-inch bore and a 4.12-inch stroke with wet sleeves. Like all Buda diesels since 1934 they used the Lanova Power Cell combustion chamber, but the B-Series tractors were considerably downsized compared to previous Buda diesels. Two parent bore (non-sleeved) variants would also be built, the 4BD-182 and the 6BD-273.
The 230ci, 55-flywheel-horsepower 6BD-230 would be the first Buda diesel to appear in AC tractors, namely the WD-45 diesel that began production late in 1954. For 1957 the 230 was bored 1/8 inch and stroked ¼ inch to make it 262 cubic inches. The 4BD four-cylinder engines would get a similar update to 175 cubic inches. The displacement update would coincide with other upgrades that included changes to the sleeve sealing, moving the water pump from the head to the block, improving the oil pump and updating the oil filter from a canister-style to a spin-on.
The D262 turbo diesel was offered with a lower compression ratio than the NA, 14:1 vs. 15.7:1, but after about a year of production (engine number 01499 in the late-’61, early-’62 time period) they upgraded the ratio to 15:1 to solve cold-starting issues. The B-Series engines also suffered from head cracking, made worse by turbocharging, so the heads were updated by reducing the valve sizes to leave more material in the casting. The injector tips were made smaller, again to keep more meat in the casting. A new camshaft was added to the mix but we could not discover the exact differences in cam specs.
Besides being the first production turbo diesel farm tractor, the D-19 had another distinction: It was the first farm tractor tested in Nebraska to use a cellulose (paper) air filter. Oil-bath filters were standard for the era but they have very low airflow rates and are not efficient at cleaning the air, even when perfectly maintained. If you let the oil level get low, or the oil reservoir fills with “mud,” the already-marginal filtering efficiency significantly degrades and engine damage can result. A cellulose filter was the answer and in a few short years the entire industry had left oil-bath filters behind.
The D-19 was called a “5-plow tractor,” which put it into the upper tier of rowcrop tractors in 1961. It came standard with power steering, adjustable wide front axle, the Traction Booster system (draft control with AC’s unique Snap Coupler implement lift), the Power Director, live PTO, a single hydraulic remote, 15.5-38 rear tires with the non-power-adjusted wheels, a pair of headlights and one rear work/taillight. The price for the base tractor in March of ’62 was $5,860.
Options included single or dual-wheel narrow front axles, power-adjust rear wheels, tires as big as 18.4- 34, a side-mounted drum PTO, front weights, front and rear wheel weights, up to three hydraulic remotes and a padded seat. The D-19 was available in a high-clearance model with 37 inches under the belly for use in rice or sugar cane crops. The D-19 was also available with gas or LPG engines.
The D-19 was produced into 1964. It was joined in ’63 by the 103-horsepower D21 with a new 426ci direct injected diesel, making the D-19 an instant also-ran. As the D-19 was fading a totally new tractor emerged to take its place in the lineup, the One-Ninety. Even in NA form, the 301ci One-Ninety DI diesel made more PTO power than the D19, though the drawbar power was close. The AC direct-injected diesels marked the beginning of the end for the Lanova diesels in Allis- Chalmers tractors. A bit more than 10,000 D-19s of all types were built.
The D-19 lived up to the advertised performance claims but the engine fell short on durability. Even the NA D262 engine was a little sketchy long-term, having issues with dropped sleeves. Being turbocharged, the D-19 engine was even more fragile. A careful operator could avoid the problems but a tired, overworked farmer is often a lot less than careful and a smart tractor manufacturer builds with that in mind. Whatever faults existed with the turbocharged D262, it highlighted the benefits of the turbo diesel and brought the farm tractor market a few steps closer to near-universal acceptance of turbocharged diesels.DW
1964 ALLIS-CHALMERS D-19
ENGINE: AC/Buda D262
DISPLACEMENT: 262 ci
BORE & STROKE: 3.56 x 4.38 in.
*RATED PTO POWER: 66.92 hp @ 2,000 rpm
*RATED DRAWBAR POWER: 61.27 @ 2,001 rpm
COMPRESSION RATIO: 14:1 (later 15:1)
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed (4-speed with Power Director)
WHEELBASE: 102.3 in.
WEIGHT: 6,480 lbs.
TIRES: Front—7.50-16 Rear—18.4-34
*FUEL CONSUMPTION: 5.211 GPA at maximum power
*DRAWBAR PULL: 8,459 lbs (ballasted to 11, 210 lbs)
*TOP SPEED: 13.9 mph
*As rated by Nebraska Tractor Test #811